By Susan Winter
“I plead insanity. It’s my only defense,” she said. “But why?” asked her internal prosecutor. “I suffer from high self-esteem. I won’t be less… because he can’t be more.”
Why would a rational woman destroy all hopes of a continued connection with an incredible man? Because, he was incredible. Too incredible. And that was the problem. This is the insanity of high self-esteem. It can be executed in 10 seconds simply by pushing the “send” button on a text message.
It was a casual Sunday morning. I sat at my desk trying to find clarity in a third cup of coffee. No such luck. I only felt the density of my emotions for a man who was all that I desired in a human. He was bright, ambitious and emotionally intelligent. In the recognition of his worth, I balanced my own worth. I knew what I wanted and how I wanted to be treated.
He was present, yes. We’d been dating and he was in contact. But I didn’t feel a solid opening into his life. I could see our relationship meandering along for months and dragging me into emotional waters I cared not tread.
The grenade was discretely placed in a text message. It was polite and diplomatically stated, pared down to a minimum of words. He was, after all, a guy. Brief is better. He wasn’t bad or wrong. He was great… but not for me. I had no other recourse. The beauty of what we shared was destroyed in the flash of a few seconds.
As I pushed the “send” button, my heart both sank and rose simultaneously. How’s that possible? I felt both sad and relieved at the same time. There was no turning back from this point. I should be happy, right?
Then the crazy thinking began. Oh my god! I blew it up. I ended the incredible possibility of what we “may have” become. Next, came the lamenting. What did I do? Was it the right move? Why did I end this marvelous connection with this marvelous person?
There were no right answers to assuage my guilt and pain. I had taken an action based on my own self-worth. I voted for me. In doing so, I killed him off.
There are times in our lives when we have the opportunity to meet someone who is truly special. A good, ethical prince of a man who’s the embodiment of everything we want and admire. BUT, he’s not completely on board with who he needs to be (and how he needs to be) with us. That’s when high self-esteem rears its ugly and beautiful head.
This dual-edged sword balances the scales of self-worth and yearning. We’ve finally met a “Prince in waiting.” He’s almost a King. But he’s not our King. To kill off a love affair because we refuse to be less is the duty of the sword of self-worth. The goal of love is mutual participation.
Self-esteem is brutal and clear in function. It’s the sword we all carry and have at our disposal. It’s the cut we feel and the cut we can give another, when self-worth collides with the impatience of not being honored by our lover. There is no compromise.
We’re left with the incalculable pain of knowing we’ve detonated a bomb for which there’s no retraction. A line has been drawn in the sand. There’s no going back because there was no going forward. We know how we expect be treated and how we are to be attended. Anything less is an aberration of our worth.
With age, I’ve experienced the perils of impatience. What was once tolerable is now intolerable. I know who I am. For better or worse, that’s the basis of all decisions made. I value myself. If the man I’m with values me as well, then we’re good. If he doesn’t, then we aren’t good. End of story.
Here’s the point where I plead insanity. The insanity of knowing who I am, and expecting the man I’m dating to know that as well. If he fails me in this, then there’s no recourse. I won’t sell my heart at discount prices. Most of all… I won’t be less because he can’t be more.